Study Abroad in Rome, Italy

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Social Identity & Access - January Term 2023

One of the best things you can do before departure is enter into the experience knowing that your time abroad will be different than on your home campus. The resources, community and support available to you abroad will likely be different than your home campus as well. Your Resident Director will provide you with more details pre-departure and during orientation.

When abroad, let your Resident Director know if you are experiencing challenges. Being able to speak to someone about your experience can often be helpful. They can provide tips and resources for navigating this new environment. Please notify AIFS staff immediately of any incidents that make you uncomfortable or if you should happen to feel unsafe at all.

Our student resources website features additional information and accommodation forms for you to communicate any specific support you need during your time abroad. We encourage you to download and complete the appropriate form(s) from the site and return them to the Admissions Officer for your AIFS study abroad program. Letting us know before you arrive abroad will allow us to better assist you throughout your study abroad experience.

If you have mobility limitations or concerns, please let your Program Advisor or Program Manager and Resident Director know before your arrival so they can work with you directly. Students who require access to medications should ensure their prescriptions are legally permitted in country and should bring all required medication with them for the full duration of their program. Rome presents numerous challenges for visitors with disabilities trying to get around town, including cobblestones, few curbs, hills, and few public transportation options.

Students of a mature age may be one of the few within their program, although your participation is welcomed. There are many opportunities to engage with other students and locals throughout the program. Your Resident Director can provide you with information.

Students who have a service or emotional support animal should connect with their Program Advisor or Program Manager to get the most current information related to animals being permitted in housing, classes, and in the city.

The designation of being a first-generation college student is not as prominent a social identity in the Italian higher education system as it is in the US, so specific resources related to this in-country might be harder to find. All students will receive an on-site orientation led by the Resident Director to help them to navigate the new academic environment they will encounter while studying at the Global Education Center and the day-to-day aspects of Italian cultural life which might be unfamiliar. Our staff are here to support you as you transition to being a student abroad – please ask for help if you're feeling unsure.

Italy is considered a gay-friendly country and regarded as increasingly culturally liberal, while some instances of homophobia may still occur. Same-sex unions have been legally recognized since 2016. Rome does have an unofficial "gay street," which is filled with plenty of bars and clubs. Information is available in the student coordinator's office.

Italian, as with other romance languages, presents challenges for inclusivity of non-binary genders in that grammatically there only exists masculine and feminine. There are currently no efforts to introduce a neutral pronoun into the Italian language, this is due to the structure of Italian and also to the sociological and religious context of a predominantly Catholic country.

Staff and faculty have had experience with non-binary students and will do their best to ensure that students will be protected and respected.

Although AIFS in Rome does not currently offer specific gender-neutral housing, students are welcome to express preferences and make specific requests, which will be accommodated when possible.

If you have neurological, intellectual or cognitive limitations or mental health concerns, please let your Program Advisor or Program Manager and Resident Director know any accommodations you require before your arrival so they can work with you directly. Students who require access to medications should ensure their prescriptions are legally permitted in country and should bring all required medication with them for the full duration of their program. During orientation week an English-speaking psychologist meets students to discuss mental health concerns and challenges that may arise during their time abroad. We strongly advise students who have counseling at home to discuss with their home doctor implementing a mental health plan while they are abroad. AIFS also offers their students an English-speaking, global teleconsultation service, connecting students to experienced medical personnel via phone call or video chat, this service is included in the program fees.

People of Color are minoritized in Rome and sometimes experience microaggressions and acts of racism. If students experience this while abroad, they are encouraged to report the incident to on-site staff.

Rome is the hub of Roman Catholicism and where the Pope resides. Roman Catholics and other Christians make up the vast majority of the population, though only one-third of those are practicing Catholics. Students should feel supported and protected regardless of religious affiliation in Italy. Islam is not recognized by the Italian State as a religion, there are only eight mosques in all of Italy, but many cultural centers and prayer rooms.

Information is provided in the Rome student handbook that all students receive upon arrival and is available in the student's lab.

For students who have limited financial means, there are plenty of opportunities in Rome to experience local culture for free or inexpensively. The program-arranged social and cultural activities include free events or for a small fee. Every first Sunday of the month museum entrance is free. There are also many free events happening all year round, as well as discounted tickets for concerts, theater, and exhibits.

Your Resident Director will provide you with more information on affordable opportunities at orientation and throughout the program.

Italy celebrates its veterans with the marking of the end of World War I with its National Unity and Armed Forces Day. Since Italy spent the bulk of the war fighting the Austro-Hungarian Empire and peace on the Italian Front was separate from the rest of the Western Front, the end of the war – and Italy's veterans – are celebrated on Nov. 4.

We strongly advise students who have counselling for PTSD at home to discuss with their home doctor a mental health plan (including access to necessary medications) for while they are abroad. The AIFS student insurance (CISI) includes access to English-speaking professional counsellors and psychotherapists who are used to working with international students.

The AIFS Rome Center fosters student connectivity and understanding of all aspects of personal wellbeing, not only physical but also emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual, and occupational.

Rome offers a variety of sport and wellness centers that students may join during their stay. Gyms, yoga and mindfulness studios, tennis courts, public pools and more are readily available near the campus and student housing. Your Resident Director will be able to provide a list with places for your specific interest. Students needing support for mental health problems, can easily connect with experienced English-speaking counsellors and psychotherapists. AIFS also offers their students an English speaking, global teleconsultation service, connecting students to experienced medical personnel via phone call or video chat, this service is included in the program fees.

Sometimes women may experience unwanted attention and harassment in the form of cat calling and other forms of objectification by local men. It is recommended to ignore these advances. During orientation, AIFS staff will discuss gender roles in Italian society.

Italy is thought to be a very safe country, but it is recommended that students follow 'common sense' safety precautions as they would in the United States, are vigilant of their surroundings, and make a conscious effort to travel in groups as often as possible. Your Resident Director will provide you with more details during orientation.

Download Study Abroad Resources!

Download Study Abroad Resources!